One of the more remarkable real-life stories from The Wolf of Wall Street never made it into the movie.
Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the film (which earned DiCaprio his first Golden Globe win and an expected Academy Award nomination), had Tommy Chong as a cellmate in federal prison. Moreover, Belfort decided to write his life story into the book that became the movie by watching Chong write his book (The I Chong: Meditations from the Joint) in their prison cubicle together.
In the New York magazine profile on Belfort this past fall, the reporter found Belfort still palling around with Tommy Chong and his wife, Shelby.
And in separate print and TV interviews last week, Chong recounted his role in helping Belfort tell his own story.
“Well, I was working on a book myself, so every evening or every chance I got I would sit and write. Jordan got curious and wanted to know what I was doing, and I told him I was writing a book, and he said, ‘I’m gonna write.’ So he started kind of emulating me—every night, we’d sit together, he’d write his pages and I’d write my pages.
After a while he showed me what he had written, and it was the only time I had critiqued someone really heavy—usually when someone writes something, you say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s great, keep going.’ But I knew instinctively he had a lot more to offer than what he showed me. … I told him, “’Honestly, you haven’t really written anything.” He had been working on it for a couple of weeks so he was really pissed off. He snatched the papers back, and I said, “No, you’ve got to write those stories you’ve been telling me at night. Your real life is much more exciting than any kind of imaginary story you could come up with.’”
And on Bloomberg TV last week, Chong said this:
So to make clear, Chong wants you to know writing “The Wolf of Wall Street” was his idea. But please, don’t call them cellmates, because then you might think they were mates. Wink wink nudge nudge, he really doesn’t want you to get that idea of them know what he means.